In “How to Handle Hives,” a blog on our sister office CT Sinus Center’s site, we examined how sometimes allergic reactions manifest as red, itchy or stinging bumps on top of the skin. In fact, the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI) states that 20 percent of people will experience these hives, or urticaria, at least once in their lives. The Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America (AAFA) specifies that for about 1.5 million people in the U.S., hives can stick around for over six weeks or keep coming back. When this occurs, it’s known as chronic hives or chronic urticaria.
Chronic Hives Symptoms
Chronic hives are usually extremely uncomfortable, but not seriously harmful. And where acute hives may appear during anaphylaxis, chronic hives aren’t usually related to the life-threatening reaction. The most common symptoms, according to Mayo Clinic, are:
- Batches of red or skin-colored welts (wheals), which can appear anywhere on the body
- Itching, which may be severe
- Painful swelling (angioedema) of the lips, eyelids and inside the throat
- Welts that vary in size, change shape, and appear and fade repeatedly as the reaction runs its course
The Causes of Chronic Hives
Sometimes, through thorough examination and diagnostics, the root of what’s causing the hives can be discovered. Some triggers include:
- Allergic reactions to food, insects, medications, etc.
- Continuous pressure on skin (for example, tight clothing)
- Underlying illness (such as autoimmune disease, often thyroid disorders)
Unfortunately, many cases of chronic urticaria have no known cause. This type is called “chronic idiopathic urticaria (CIU),” “idiopathic” meaning unknown. If you have been diagnosed with CIU, the AAFA offers this excellent online educational resource: “CIU & You.” On that site, some of you may recognize the familiar face that has become a spokesperson for the condition.
Getting Help for Chronic Hives
If you are suffering from chronic urticaria, it’s important to seek treatment, and the doctors at Westwood ENT are experts in the condition. Before any tests are done, the doctor will sit down with you to discuss your medical history and when and how often your symptoms occur. Blood and allergy tests may be used to pinpoint or rule out certain triggers. However, even if the cause of the hives cannot be determined, the doctor can help you find relief with a treatment plan that fits your lifestyle, such as antihistamines or anti-inflammatories.
So stop letting chronic hives take over your body and your life. Make an appointment at one of Westwood ENT’s four conveniently-located offices — Kent, Litchfield, Shelton or Waterbury — by calling 203-574-5997 or scheduling online. We’re itching to help you.